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All reviews learn spanish local community two weeks home stay host family afternoon activities all ages san juan learning experience horseback riding central america very special place other guests nicaraguan history year old daughter four hours interesting people
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Reviewed 28 August 2017

My absolute favorite part of the experience was the amazing host family I was able to stay with. Not only was staying with them a vital part of improving my Spanish, but the family really took me in and treated me as one of their own. It was a privilege to be able to spend 5 weeks with them. As if my host family wasn't wonderful enough, the teachers at the school were great to converse with and learn from. They met me at my ability level, and were incredibly responsive when I wanted to increase or slow the pace at which I was learning. They were also fun and it was awesome to be able to exchange culture, ideas, etc with them. My volunteer placement was also an overwhelmingly positive part of my stay. The two women who led the program for children with physical and intellectual disabilities were very knowledgeable, caring, and warm. I not only learned a lot from them in the work they did, but they also helped me with my Spanish, too. The families and kids we worked with made each day great. Finally, the staff at La Mariposa from admin to kitchen and grounds staff were kind and made my time in Nicaragua incredibly easy to figure out. I hope to return soon!

Room Tip: Stay with a host family!
Stayed: June 2017, travelled solo
Thank WhitneyTX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 August 2017

The worst part of my time at La Mariposa was that I was only able to stay a week, which was only long enough to get a taste. Two weeks or more would have been better, especially since my goal was to learn more Spanish. I learned a lot--the teacher and the language partner (each morning was split between the two) were great about working with me at my level (very beginner) while still mostly speaking Spanish so that I could learn better.

I split my stay between an eco-cabin and an eco-hotel room. Having the attached bathroom was a nice feature of the hotel, but the cabin was very comfortable and a little cooler at night. The food was all local and mostly authentic (some dishes seemed adapted a bit for American palates)--and it was all very good. The hospitality was excellent. La Mariposa employs a lot of locals, so one meets many people, all of whom are very friendly.

It's not only the staff, however, but the guests who help make La Mariposa special. People of all ages from all over the world who end up eating meals and having other experiences together. It's not a resort, so bear that in mind. On the other hand, it's a comfortable, secure, affordable way to enjoy the beauty of the area and be immersed in its language and culture. I'd go again in a heartbeat.

Room Tip: Cabins are rustic but comfortable. Eco hotel is more typical lodging. Second floor catches more breeze. Be prepared--it's always humid.
  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled solo
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Thank Nebtraveler817
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2017 via mobile

I chose mariposa because they were able to accommodate all the different needs of our family. My 13 year old daughter, having taken 1 year is Spanish, stayed with a family near the school, my 10 year old was a complete beginner, my husband needed medical Spanish and I'm fluent. The one to one instruction allows for customizing. Also, I loved that my daughter could live with a family at such a young age, but I was also close by. I highly recommend the school for families who want their kids to see a whole different way of life. My daughter gained a new appreciation for modern conveniences we take for granted (indoor plumbing), but she was also incredibly moved by the generosity and friendliness of the Nicaraguan people. The excursions with the school were fun and interesting, and the food was tasty and healthy. Overall a wonderful time for all.

Stayed: August 2017, travelled with family
Thank Shana W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 August 2017

I will never be able to say enough good things about La Mariposa! I am impressed by La Mariposa as an eco-hotel, a Spanish school, an employment project, an animal rescue/rehabilitation center and a biodiversity reserve. It is really all of those things! And more! I stayed for 9 weeks, and I only became more impressed by the school as I learned more about it. As I familiarized myself with the projects (children's projects in the surrounding communities, reforestation/biodiversity conservation) I felt really lucky to be able to experience all of the things that the school is doing and support the organization.

The best part of the school is getting to know all of the people who work there! The professors are energetic and excited to teach and get to know their students; the classes are personal, comfortable, and not boring. I learned so much Spanish!! The people who work in administration are friendly and helpful; I made a bunch of changes to my itinerary and they were happy to be flexible! The gardeners/maintenance workers, the cooks, the animal caretakers, the night guards, the conductors, the people who run the projects and the tour guides are all incredibly hardworking and never shy to converse and share stories (regardless of your Spanish abilities!).

An awesome part of La Mariposa is that it can accommodate all different types of visitors. I stayed in a homestay, which was one of the best parts of my experience, as I was able to practice Spanish, learn more about Nicaragua, and hang out with a family that I now love very much. I found the homestay perfectly comfortable, the food was delicious, and I liked expanding my experience beyond the hotel. But for people who prefer the hotel or the cabins, the beauty is in the options! The same goes for the choice to volunteer or do activities, as different people are looking for different experiences. It was really fun to have people of all ages (even a few babies!) and from different places all together, which was only made possible because people were able to choose what worked best for them.

I really appreciated the eco-friendly accommodations, such as the latrines, the vegetarian food, the overflowing forest, and the reminder notes to try to use less water and toilet paper. I felt much more comfortable existing in a place that is working to minimize the impact of its guests and spread environmental consciousness, rather than ignoring human impacts (as most hotels do). Additionally, I worked at La Reserva, the nature reserve, and we spent a lot of time planting trees which will later be used for reforestation. These efforts are just a small example of how the school is thorough in it's environmental objectives and claims.

Thank you to everyone at La Mariposa! I am grateful for the time that I was able to spend at the school; I learned a ton of Spanish, a ton about Nicaragua (and other parts of the world through talking with other guests) and I made a ton of friends! I wish I could stay forever!

  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled solo
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Thank Jenny B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 June 2017

I travelled as one of two leaders of a group of 8 college students, spending one week at the Group Study Center portion of La Mariposa Eco-Hotel. As a leader, one has the option to stay on the grounds of the study center or at a local homestay. I stayed at the study center itself in a small concrete house with 3 bedrooms and an outdoor salon, and use of latrines and showers just steps from the house itself. Spanish lessons and lunch occurred at the study center. My Spanish instructors were very invested in our learning. Pre-tests were given to indicate the appropriate level of Spanish for the week’s lessons. La Mariposa provided transport to the various volunteer sites each day. I engaged in equine therapy, aqua-therapy and assisted teachers at a school to help children learn their lessons. Because there is no WIFI access at the study center, transport was provided daily to an Internet café.

The study center includes a large classroom and a covered patio with plenty hammocks with a gorgeous view where I could meet with my students each day. There was 24/7 security at the center and I always had access to Mariposa personnel if I needed anything. Chester provided an amazing 90-minute documentary on Nicaraguan history that provided a context to understand much of why Nicaragua is like it is today. I was also able to schedule with Mariposa an excursion to Volcan Masaya and Lake Apoyo for my group and I.

This was an amazing experience! While there, I learned how typical Nicaraguans live and work, historical and cultural nuances, and gained significant confidence to functionally utilize Spanish language skills. As a leader, this was the perfect opportunity to prepare myself for on-going travel and volunteer work in Nicaragua. I highly recommend to any group leader of educational or volunteer endeavors to consider spending some time at La Mariposa. This is the second group I have brought to La Mariposa with grand success!

Room Tip: Rooms at the study center come with rural community sounds at night: honking ducks, roosters, barking dogs. Loved it but you may not.
  • Stayed: June 2017, travelled with friends
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Thank BoggisT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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